The Wrong Conversation Necessarily Becomes the Right One

I facilitated a Morning Buzz session at DevLearn in October about Learning Technology Strategy. The conversation was very robust. It seems that the topic I picked had touched a nerve. But I noticed that a friend of mine was unusually quiet. When I asked him about it later he explained that he felt it was the wrong conversation. I understood what he meant. It is the ongoing concern about putting too much energy into strategizing technology for learning instead of talking about the learning first. What do people need to learn? How do they need to learn it? That is what the conversation should be about in an ideal world.
In our world though, the conversation about technology has already taken up everyone’s energy and without a strategy it has been going around in circles.”We want eLearning to save on travel costs.” “We want rapid development tools to meet aggressive deadlines and tight budgets.” “We want an LMS with the most features so we can automate delivery and track compliance and make all our stakeholders happy”. We jump from one tech conversation to another without any sense of desired outcomes and priorities. This endless conversation is already taking time and resources away from talking about learning content. It’s easier to get lost down the rabbit hole of tech than to think about what learners really need.
This is why I wanted to start a dialog about developing a Learning Technology Strategy. I want to reduce the noise and commotion. Having a strategy means that you can start talking about outcomes before you talk about tools. For instance, many people in the group had spent a lot of time finding the right LMS but almost none of them were happy with their decision. This is probably because they focused on the feature set available compared to the feature set they wanted, instead of looking at what they wanted to get out of an LMS. An organization decides that they want an LMS to hold people accountable for delivering learning. A secondary benefit is the savings in automating class roster management. Focus on delivering on this requirement will make an LMS selection process faster and more effective.
The same is happening with rapid development tools, virtual classroom tools and content management tools. All of this technology is becoming commoditized anyway. It’s hard to find a truly bad product at this point as well as it is hard to find a perfect product. The real value is in deciding how technology is used. Instead of thinking about how to use the feature sets of all of the tools in your toolkit, think about what these tools make possible for the learner to find and consume.
If we get this conversation going in the right direction, maybe we can get back to the right conversation.
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